Over the years, side effects of chemotherapy treatment and pain medications have been well studied and can be managed. During and after your treatment, it is important that patients convey symptoms and side effects to help their physicians make better informed decisions for your future treatments.
Chemotherapy drugs may cause nausea; our philosophy is to prevent nausea by giving 1-3 anti-nausea medications together with chemotherapy. Post treatment nausea is treated with drugs like Zofran© (ondansetron), Kytril© (granisetron), Anzemet© (dolasetron), Emend©(aprepitant) and Compazine (procholperazine). Other drugs less commonly prescribed for nausea include Tigan© (trimethobenzamide), Phenergan©(premethazine) and Marinol© (dronabinol).
It is important to convey symptoms of persistent pain to your physicians. Pain can significantly alter your quality of life. Pain can be treated by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen; COX2 inhibitors like celebrex© (celecoxib), Vioxx© (rofecoxib), Bextra© (valdecoxib); or narcotic pain medication. In addition, acupuncture can also be used to compliment oral medications.
Virtually all of our patients with bone metastases receive Aredia© (pamidrontate) or Zometa© (zoledronate), two drugs that help strengthen and heal bone lesions.
Most chemotherapy cause anemia which may cause fatigue. Patients are occasionally given red blood cell booster shots like Procrit© (erythropoietin) and Aranesp© (darbopoetin) to improve the patient's quality of life.
Chemotherapy can decrease the white blood counts that can lead to infection. We monitor blood counts closely and administer white blood cell growth factors like Neupogen (short acting) or Neulasta (long lasting). We may also prescribe prophylactic antibiotics to help prevent infection when the white blood cell count is low.
GENERAL INTERNAL MEDICINE PROBLEMS
Our doctors are board certified internists but practicing in the sub-specialty of medical oncology. If a patient has her own internist, our practice prefers having your internist manage your other medical problems such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, kidney disease, etc.
PREVENTION/ HIGH RISK PATIENTS/ GENETIC COUNSELING AND TESTING
Dr. Elizabeth Tan-Chiu, provides genetic counseling for women who may or may not have a diagnosis of breast cancer. Women and men who are at high risk of inheriting the breast cancer gene BRCA1or BRCA2 are also counseled on breast cancer prevention. Blood test for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene can be done. Women who have strong family history or who have past histories of breast biopsies can be counseled and examined. They can be informed of their estimated risk (Gail risk score) for developing breast cancer.